When we think of commands in Scripture, our thoughts usually turn to the commandments (10 to be exact). All the “thou shalt nots” that we learned in Sunday School – about how to be good little godly boys and girls.
When you think about it… life is pretty simple when you can live your life from a list of “do this” and “don’t do that.” We grow up thinking if we can just do the good things and avoid doing the bad things… our lives will turn out pretty okay (in God’s eyes).
Simple, yes. Easy, no. Trying to live by the list of “do’s and don’ts” turns out to be next to impossible in real life (as anyone who has really tried, has discovered!). Which is why Jesus had to come to this earth. None of us could do “the list” – so He had to come and do it for us. Thankfully, Jesus is the fulfillment of the righteous requirements of the Law – and by accepting Him (and all He did for us) we get to share in everything He accomplished.
That’s why the “good news” is really the good news! Our requirement for righteousness is already met through Jesus – now we can just get on with living life (having been set free from the righteous requirements of the Law; (see Romans 6:14; 7:6; 8:2). Simple and easy, right?
Well… not so much.
In the New Testament we are actually asked to do some things that seem not only hard to do… they seem to be quite impossible. In our minds, we are convinced that human beings are just not capable of doing some of the things that God wants us to do. The only thing that makes matters worse is that God doesn’t just want us to do those things, or ask us to do those things… He actually commands us to do those things.
Things like “be perfect as you Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48) “Be joyful continually.” “Pray without ceasing.” “Give thanks in all circumstances (even the bad ones!).” (1Thess. 5:16-18) “Rejoice in the Lord always.” (Phili. 4:4) And: “Be imitators of God.” (Eph. 5:1) And this is just a short list.
All commands. All… utterly impossible!
Or are they?
There are two amazing things about us, now that we have received Jesus and what He has done for us. God is trying to get us to understand that: 1) We are now made of new stuff; and 2) We now live in the fullness of God’s provision to do everything God asks us to do.
Because of Jesus, the old powerless, incapable you has been replaced by a you that is just like God. That’s why we are also commanded to:
And because of Jesus, we have received all the divine capability we need to do what God wants from us. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (2Peter 1:3)
God is never asking us to try harder or do better or to have more willpower in our lives. He is simply asking us to realize that we ARE new, made of new stuff, and that He has already given us all that we need to DO what He commands us to do.
It is so exciting to actually realize that when God is commanding us to do something that seems so impossible… He has already provided us with the way for us to BE and DO as He does.